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A quarter of elderly people dreading loneliness of festive season

Around 24% of elderly people, equivalent to around 2.7 million individuals, have expressed concern that the Christmas period will heighten their sense of loneliness, a new report from charity Age UK has found.

The report examined social situations that can be exacerbated by the festive season, finding that 550,000 elderly people associated Christmas with memories of lost loved ones. A further 500,000 stated that they would experience loneliness as a result of a lack of social contact with their family, with 191,520 (7%) stating that they would not see their family as much as they would like and 342,000 people (11%) stating that they were likely to be left totally alone.

The research follows recent reports of a link between loneliness and ill-health, which health professionals have stated can negatively alter a person’s genetic composition and is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, said: “For many older people, Christmas is a thoroughly miserable time which reinforces their feelings of loss and loneliness… Our research shows that making the effort to keep in touch can make a big difference to older people who tend to be stoical and reluctant to admit how lonely they are… it is a serious condition which can be hugely damaging, mentally, physically and emotionally.”

Fiona Lowry, our CEO, commented: “Christmas is rightly a time for families to enjoy quality time together, but it’s important to realise how much contact means to elderly relatives, neighbours and friends. Our own research shows that when elderly loved ones have care at home provided, and have social activities to be included in, it gives them dignity, better and longer quality of life, and can even ameliorate the decline of conditions such as dementia. Care at home, with continued friends and family contact, provides a vital safety net for this holiday period of increased risks.”